Three weeks ago no one really knew if there was going to be any welding presence at all at Sun ‘n Fun. There were certainly not going to be any huge trailers with Lincoln and Miller demonstration equipment and displays. There were not going to be rows of entry-level MIG and TIG welders there for sale at discounted prices. Many thought that there would be no instruction either. Pandemic concerns made rooms full of students and close contact welding instruction an iffy proposition.
Lincoln Electric welding company rose to the challenge and boldly decided to make welding classes happen. They went to their go-to instruction guru, Jim Bollinger, used written materials from last year’s cancelled Sun ‘n Fun, and coordinated with health experts to construct a safe plan to give introductory TIG classes. Classes were limited to 10 students, although onlookers could observe at a safe distance.
As thousands of welding initiates can attest, cowboy-hat-wearing Jim Bollinger can effectively transfer safety, welding chemistry and physics, and proper technique into your head with memorable humor. Don’t let the folksy style and southern drawl fool you, this guy, who has been welding since age 9, really knows welding. He even has his own YouTube channel, DoRiteFabrication.
After an hour and a half of book knowledge, students proceed to the best, part, one on one TIG instruction with the master. Each student was given the choice of which metal they wanted to weld, steel, stainless or aluminum. One newbie asked for the easiest metal. Bollinger laughed and said that they would actually go for aluminum, so that the student could go home with a good example of welded aluminum to impress his friends. Sure enough, 15 minutes later, an impressive bead was produced. Testament to a capable and forgiving piece of welding machinery, the Lincoln TIG 200, and an engaging and professional instructor.
No telling whether Lincoln’s classes will sell any more welding machines, accessories and materials, but they are certainly to be commended for carrying the torch (ok, just a little pun intended) for the welding world while others were deterred by the pandemic.